Active duty military service members in Massachusetts, as part of their compensation, often times receive a monthly stipend for both housing and food. This monthly stipend consists of a Basic Allowance for Housing payment (“BAH”) and a Basic Allowance for Subsistence payment (“BAS”).
BAH will be provided in the event that a service member is not being furnished with government provided housing. If government furnished housing is available, a service member may not receive a BAH payment or will receive a reduced BAH payment.
A service member’s BAH will depend upon their location, pay grade and whether they have dependents. BAH rates are calculated by reviewing the cost of rental properties in a locality. As a result, BAH rates in an area with a high-cost of living (housing) will be significantly higher than the BAH rates in a lower cost area. BAH rates are published on the Defense Travel Management Office Web page: https://www.defensetravel.dod.mil/site/bah.cfmS.
BAS is typically provided regardless of the availability of government provided meals. Because BAS is intended to provide meals for the service member, its level is linked to the price of food. As a result, the payments a service member receives for BAS are adjusted each year to correlate with the increase of the price of food as measured by the USDA food cost index.
BAH and BAS When Calculating Child Support
The Court will typically look to the entirety of the service member’s income when calculating child support, and in most circumstances this will result in the inclusion of a service member’s BAH and BAS income in their overall income for purposes of calculating child support. Note that these allowance payments are received tax free, and this tax status must also be reflected when preparing the child support calculations.
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